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Super Bowl Advertiser Websites: Running the 3 Second Drill

Here in Boston, the Yottaa team can’t wait for the Super Bowl this weekend. Will Tom Brady defeat Father Time for yet another Super Bowl win? Will we get to see GOAT face again?

You can be sure the Patriots are practicing their 2 minute drill for the big game. But have Super Bowl advertisers practiced the 3 second drill for their websites? Can they engage website visitors on Super Bowl Sunday before the clock runs out?  In this blog we review which advertiser websites are best poised to take advantage of their big ad spend this Sunday.

Advertisers only have three seconds

Advertisers are spending up to $5 million on 30 second ad spots. The hope is that these ads will drive people online to engage in their website brand experience. Yet many of these brand websites take longer to load than an NFL wide receiver takes to sprint down the field. Patriots players Brandin Cooks, Phillip Dorsett and Jonathan Jones all run the 40 yard dash in 4.33 seconds. The average advertiser site takes 7 seconds to load.

Research shows that you only have only three seconds to capture a visitor’s attention on your website. If your pages don’t load quickly, visitors will leave. So which advertiser websites are going to be ready for the influx of traffic? Which websites will slow down or even crash?

Super Bowl advertiser winners and losers

We looked at the list of companies that purchased TV ad spots in the 2018 Super Bowl. Some are promoting specific events or organizations with their own URLs, such as Kraft’s promotion of When known, we included that here. However, the brand name behind the spot will still bring new traffic to the brand website, so we analyzed those URLs. Specifically, we analyzed how long it takes these pages to start rendering and become fully interactive (doc complete). We also looked at the size and number of requests on the page.

The data was compiled using on a weekday morning from a Chrome browser on the East Coast. It analyzes only the home page, and some of these could be anomalies. But directionally it allows us to look at who might have problems this Sunday.

Who’s prepared to score a touchdown this Sunday?

These sites are loading quickly and don’t look poised for any problems:

1. Budweiser – Worth noting because they buck the trend. The fastest websites on this list all are less than 1MB in size and require 40 requests. In contrast, the Bud team packs a lot onto their page with 1.13MB and 70 requests, yet still races in at 2.58 seconds for the page to be interactive. Whatever you feed those Clydesdales, keep doing it.  

2. Kraft / – The FamilyGreatly page is about getting people to sign up, and they can’t sign up if the page won’t load. With 2 second load times, visitors can absorb site content and sign-up before getting distracted by the next commercial.

3. Mountain Dew – We know what their developers have been drinking. Mountain Dew is ready to rock with the smallest page size measured (0.48MB) and fastest start render time (0.5s). They must know their visitors have short attention spans, so they built a home page to match.

4. Michelob – The fastest page to become fully interactive at 1.55s, it requires only 26 requests to do so. If someone wants to know what Michelob is all about after the ad runs, they could probably view the page from a 1998 beeper screen.  

Who might have an angry meeting on Monday?

The speed and complexity of these websites should be cause for concern on Sunday:

1. Universal Pictures – Universal is promoting a number of trailers during the Super Bowl, which may drive traffic straight to a dedicated film website. But if viewers decide to go straight to the advertiser’s home page, they’ll find it could take almost 18 seconds for the page to completely load. It can’t help that a browser has to fight through almost 10MB and 144 requests to load the page.

2. Hyundai USA – Hyundai wins the prize for the most complex website, with 253 requests required to load the page. If one of the 3rd party vendors serving these requests isn’t ready for the influx of Super Bowl traffic, it could hang up the entire site. I can’t imagine the Hyundai ads are promoting the virtues of being slow, so hopefully they will make a few changes to help their start render (4s) and document complete (11s) times.

3. Squarespace – You can tell this company builds websites, because their site is beautiful. But that beauty comes with a cost, as it has the largest page size (13MB) among all advertisers. In this test the page took almost 3 seconds to start rendering and 21 seconds to completely load. Their page would risk a delay of game call if they took the field on Sunday.

4. Hulu – Hulu has one of the smallest pages (4MB) in our bottom 5, but their 7 second start render time makes them our website of highest concern. Tom Brady only gives himself 3 seconds to throw the ball, and your visitors will only give your website 3 seconds to load. Not even the Tuck Rule could save a website running at these speeds.  

One bad request could ruin the year

The Patriots learned in 2008 that just one crazy play can ruin the best NFL season of all time. In the same vein, all your hard work to accelerate your website to Indy 500 standards can be undone by one 3rd party request pulling a David Tyree. Disappointment and an unpleasant Monday is just one failed request away.

Don’t spend millions of dollars on an ad campaign to drive customers to a website that doesn’t work. Make sure you beat the spread by calling your website acceleration vendor this week to see how you can prepare your content and 3rd parties to deliver the fastest possible experience.  

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